Welcome to the Coral Cabal

Authors: C. Anne Claus*, American University, Amelia Moore*, University of Rhode Island -
Topics: Marine and Coastal Resources, Global Change, Environment
Keywords: coral, environment, collaboration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Remarkably responsive to minor changes, corals are bellwethers. Their growth or decay reflects larger social and environmental conditions across scales, in a winding but oftentimes perceptible way. Like Anna Tsing's matsutake mushrooms, coral reefs are processes in formation. In popular understandings corals defy simple categorization—they are animals but they are often mistaken for plants, or even rocks. Corals, in short, are cryptic. This paper outlines the need for an interdisciplinary coral cabal that can make space for generative collaboration across multiple boundaries. What, from diverse disciplinary standpoints, do we observe and record about coral reefs? What are the multiple, overlapping ways that coral reefs are discussed and interpreted? In what ways does the materiality of coral engender particular interpretations that might also take its own organismal boundary blurring into account? What does understanding coral make possible for human lives and what does understanding human lives make possible for coral? Multi-species ethnography has garnered academic attention in the past few years, and while this meeting of coral scholars also seeks to further theoretical understandings of this interplay between human and non-human actors, the authors also suggest that these multidisciplinary engagements can and should break out of academic halls and disciplinary boundaries to become more conversant with non-academic audiences and every day life.

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